In 2016 Scottish Government launched A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People, an action plan that we wrote with the direct involvement of disabled people and Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs). The plan was developed and written because we wanted, and continue to want, to secure real transformational change for disabled people across Scotland.
For too many disabled people their ambitions, their dreams and achieving their promise is still denied to them because of the barriers society has put in their way. The barriers that disabled people face are not barriers caused by disabled people or by the impairment; they are barriers caused by prejudice, ignorance and thoughtlessness by others. Real change is needed so that all disabled people are valued as equal citizens and can live their lives as independently as they want. We must all continue to work together, as we have done over the past five years, to deliver it.
We cannot think back over the past five years without addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. It has impacted dramatically on many people's lives and shone a light on pre-existing inequality. Disabled people, minority ethnic communities, people on low incomes, older people, young people, and women are amongst those who have experienced disproportionate impacts, with multiple disadvantage making things even harder for many. Disabled people who are at increased clinical risk from the COVID-19 virus have had their lives significantly impacted. In addition, a much wider group of disabled people have had their daily lives changed through lack of, or altered, services, restrictions, and through the economic impacts.
We have directly supported DPOs and organisations supporting disabled people to deliver their COVID-19 response work. We thank the many organisations that have been doing brilliant work using the funding they have received to support their communities directly or through providing information or undertaking research.
We know that in order for Scotland to be a fairer place for everyone there is a lot of work that needs to happen as we emerge from this pandemic to not only return us to the pre-pandemic state, but then to continue to progress toward true equality. We have shown ambition in ensuring that the setbacks of the pandemic can be speedily reversed through our work with the Social Renewal Advisory Board.
Finally, in our 2020-21 Programme for Government, we committed to actively consider the incorporation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), working with key stakeholders in these sectors. We are proud that the government-led National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership has recently recommended incorporation of UNCRPD as part of a new and comprehensive statutory human rights framework to be taken forward in the next Parliamentary term.
Our shared goal is nothing less than equality for all disabled people. Equal rights for disabled people are about human rights. None of us can enjoy our human rights when even one of us doesn't.
Cabinet Secretary for Older People and Social Security
Minister for Older People and Equalities